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Mechanical engineers develop and manufacture tools and equipment. They work with machines and mechanical devices that design such things as car engines, elevators and air conditioners. They also design tools for other engineers to use. They may specialize in certain areas of mechanical engineering, such as bioengineering. Mechanical engineers as well as other types of engineers must stay up to date with changes in technology by undergoing continuous educational training.
Most entry-level engineering positions require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in engineering or a related field of study, such as mathematics or natural science. Some colleges and universities offer two- and four-year degrees in engineering technology. Engineers who perform services for the public are required to acquire a license as a professional engineer in their state. Typical requirements to obtain the professional engineering license include completing an engineering program at an institution accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology; obtaining four years of work experience; and passing statewide examinations. The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology also accredits most engineering educational programs.
Mechanical Engineer Expertise
Mechanical engineering degree programs provide students with a wide range of training, which can be applied in a variety of occupational specialties, such as manufacturing engineering and environmental engineering. Mechanical engineering students complete mathematics and science courses; the students also complete specific engineering-related courses including robotics, acoustics, control dynamics and thermal fluids. Graduates of mechanical engineering programs have knowledge in practical applications of engineering science and technology; mechanical design techniques; machines and tools; electronic equipment; computer hardware and software; and business management principles.
Mechanical Engineer Skills
In general, engineers have verbal and written communication skills, and they are analytical and detail-oriented individuals. Specifically, mechanical engineers have the ability to resolve complex problems and implement solutions to problems. Mechanical engineers have the ability to solve mathematical problems and use scientific rules and methods. Mechanical engineers also have the ability to use certain tools, such as flow meters, machine mounts and semiconductor process systems.
Employment and Salary
In 2009, mechanical engineers held 232,660 jobs with a mean annual salary of $80,580, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The mean hourly wage for mechanical engineers was $38.74 in 2009. BLS also reveals that the median annual salary was $77,020, and the median hourly wage in 2009 was $37.03. Most mechanical engineers are employed in architectural or engineering industries, while smaller percentages of mechanical engineers are employed in other industries, such as scientific research and development and aerospace manufacturing.
Marie Huntington has been a legal and business writer since 2002 with articles appearing on various websites. She also provides travel-related content online and holds a Juris Doctor from Thomas Cooley Law School.